GREENBELT, Md., (WWBT/AP) - Three members of a reportedly racially motivated violent extremist group have been arrested in Maryland and Delaware by FBI special agents.
The FBI Baltimore Field Office confirms Brian Mark Lemley, Jr., 33, William Garfield Bilbrough IV, 19, and Patrik Jordan Mathews, 27, were all arrested by agents early Thursday morning.
Lemley, of Elkton, Maryland, and Mathews, a Canadian national currently of Newark, Delaware were arrested in Delaware. Bilbrough, of Denton, Maryland, was arrested in Maryland.
According to a release, the three men are alleged members of the group “The Base,” and have been charged with various firearms and alien charges.
The three men were believed to be planning to attend the pro-gun rally planned for Monday in Richmond, according to a law enforcement official who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss an active investigation.
The arrest comes a day after Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency and a temporary ban on all weapons, including guns, on Capitol grounds.
The complaint charges Lemley and Bilbrough with transporting and harboring aliens and conspiring to do so. Lemley is also charged with transporting a machine gun and disposing of a firearm and ammunition to an alien unlawfully present in the United States. He also faces a charge of transporting the firearm and ammunition with intent to commit a felony.
The complaint further charges Mathews, a Canadian national, with being an alien in possession and transportation of a firearm and ammunition to commit a felony.
Authorities said the complaint was filed Tuesday, but unsealed Thursday with the trio’s arrest.
According to the release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maryland, within “The Base’s" encrypted chatrooms, members have talked about “recruitment, creating a white ethno-state, committing acts of violence against minority communities the organization’s military-style training camps, and ways to make improvised explosive devices.”
Lemley previously served as Cavalry Scout in the United States Army, and Mathews, a Canadian citizen illegally in the US, was a combat engineer with the Canadian Army Reserve as of Aug. 2019.
Court documents state Mathews illegally crossed into the US near Minnesota on Aug. 19, 2019. On Aug. 30, Lemley and Bilbrough allegedly drove to Michigan to pick him up before all of them returned to Maryland.
U.S. and Canadian authorities had been searching for Mathews after his truck was found in September near the border between the two countries. He was last seen by family members in Beausejour, northeast of Winnipeg, on Aug. 24, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The Canadian military’s intelligence unit was investigating Mathews for “possible racist extremist activities” for several months, according to the Canadian Department of National Defence.
“According to the affidavit, during December 2019, Lemley and Mathews used an upper receiver ordered by Lemley, as well as other firearms parts, to make a functioning assault rifle," the release said. "Also in December, Lemley, Mathews, and Bilbrough allegedly attempted to manufacture a controlled substance, DMT, at Lemley and Mathews’s apartment. Furthermore, Lemley, Mathews, and Bilbrough discussed The Base’s activities and spoke about other members of the organization. Mathews also allegedly showed the assault rifle to Bilbrough, who examined the assault rifle and returned it to Mathews.”
A few days later, Lemley and Mathews bought 150 rounds of ammunition and paper shooting targets and Lemley was spotted by an FBI agent at a gun range in Maryland. Court papers sayd federal agents heard the gun firing in rapid succession and authorities allege that Lemley later told Mathews: “Oh oops, it looks like I accidentally made a machine gun.”
Federal agents appeared to be tracking the men’s movements and set up a stationary camera near the gun range, which captured video of Mathews shooting the gun there on Jan. 5. Court documents say Lemley had also ordered 1,500 rounds of ammunition and he and Mathews visited the gun range as recently as Saturday.
“If convicted, Lemley and Bilbrough each face a maximum sentence of five years for transporting and harboring certain aliens, and 10 years for conspiracy to do so," said a release from federal prosecutors. “Lemley also faces a maximum of five years in prison for transporting a machine gun in interstate commerce, and a maximum of 10 years in federal prison for disposing of a firearm and ammunition to an illegal alien. Lemley and Mathews each face a maximum of 10 years in federal prison for transporting a firearm and ammunition in interstate commerce with intent to commit a felony offense. Finally, Mathews faces a maximum of 10 years in federal prison for being an alien in possession of a firearm and ammunition.”
The trio appeared in federal court in Greenbelt, Maryland Thursday.
Copyright 2020 WWBT. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.